April 18, 2023
by Christopher Parker (@wheresbossman)

The World SUP Festival is clashing with Carolina, and it highlights the lack of leadership in our sport

One of the biggest races of 2022 was the World SUP Festival in Spain. One of the biggest races of all time is the Carolina Cup. Many of the world’s should be paddling both races. Last year many of them did, this year it’s impossible: The two events are on the same weekend.

Despite our sport now being 15 years old, date clashes between major events continue to be a feature of the international calendar and a blight on the sport.

“Too many races is a good thing!” the optimist might say. That’s technically the truth but glosses over the problems caused by clashes.

To put it simply, we’re too small of a sport to be divided. We don’t have the critical mass or depth of talent that other sports can use as a buffer. Less paddlers and less top talent means less excitement, less buzz, less exposure and less potential to reach a bigger audience, more sponsors and more sustainability.

Why the World SUP Festival – an event that’s done a fantastic job in recent years I should note – moved its date an entire month forward onto the sacred Carolina weekend I’m not sure. I’ve heard it was because the local Santa Pola tourism board wanted to fill hotel rooms out of season. I’ve also heard it was because of an ill-fated agreement with the perpetually-underperforming APP World Tour, which had promised a major event just down the road in Alicante for the weekend either before or after to create a big double-header. That event, like much of the APP, never materialised, and now the “world tour” will piggyback on a spare day of the Euro Tour by hosting a little sprint race on the Sunday morning following the main ocean race on Saturday.

Whatever the reason for this latest fiasco, major event clashes highlight one thing: nobody is in charge.

Despite all the various tours, organisations and federations wrestling to be in the driver’s seat, nobody’s got their hand on the wheel. Too many egos, too many agendas, too many conflicts.

I’m sure it’ll still be a good show in both Carolina and Santa Pola, but it should have been a lot better.